Mariner East frequently asked questions
- About (3)
- Most Recent (5)
- Products (3)
- Benefits (4)
- Safety (7)
- Envir. Protection (3)
- Regulation (6)
- Construction (10)
What is Mariner East?
Mariner East is a pipeline infrastructure project in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and West Virginia. Three pipelines will transport natural resources such as propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in southeastern Pennsylvania and other access points in between. These resources will be distributed to destinations in Pennsylvania and other domestic and international markets.
Mariner East 1 is an underground pipeline, completed in 2014, that transports liquid propane and ethane from western Pennsylvania approximately 300 miles east to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Marcus Hook, Pa., and Claymont, Del.
Mariner East 2 is a new, approximately 350-mile underground pipeline delivering propane, butane and ethane east from Ohio and West Virginia into Pennsylvania. The mainly 20-inch pipeline entered service on Dec. 29, 2018.
Mariner East 2X is a 16-inch pipeline currently under construction that parallels ME2. It is scheduled to be finished in early 2021.
Who is building Mariner East?
Energy Transfer, which has more than eight decades’ experience building and operating pipelines, operates the Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 pipelines, and is building the Mariner East 2X pipeline. We own and operate one of the largest and most diversified portfolios of energy assets in the United States, with a strategic footprint in all of the major domestic production basins, including the Marcellus Shale. We began in 1996 as a small natural gas pipeline operator and today own and operate more than 86,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines — carrying approximately 30 percent of the natural gas and crude oil that fuel our nation’s economy every day.
How does the pipeline system move product?
Natural gas liquids are separated from methane by natural gas producers at processing plants in the shale areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The natural gas liquids enter the Mariner East pipelines from these processing facilities under pressure to keep them in liquid form. The product is moved along the pipeline with the help of pump stations placed at intervals along the line. The pump stations include instruments that measure temperature, pressure and flow and act as a layer of safety. The pipeline is further controlled with the help of valve sites, also placed at intervals along the line, many of which can be closed remotely from our control center. The products arrive at a terminal, where they can be stored in tanks and moved to local, regional and international markets.
Does Energy Transfer take additional safety measures in residential areas?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), along with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), oversees the safe operation of pipelines. (Pipeline safety standards are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically 49 CFR 195.) These regulations require enhanced protection for defined High Consequence Areas (HCA) areas, which include urbanized areas delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs), and commercially navigable waterways.
One of the measures used to protect HCAs is to upgrade existing main line valves or add new valves to act as emergency flow restriction devices (EFRDs). Such valves can be controlled remotely by the pipeline control center at all times. Some EFRD valves can automatically close in response to changes in pressure that could signal a problem with the pipeline system and trigger a systemwide shutdown. EFRD valves are placed strategically along the pipeline as determined via risk analysis evaluations to minimize potential impact to HCAs in the event of a pipeline emergency.
Pipelines regulated under 49 CFR 195 are assessed for integrity at least once every five years. These assessments are carried out via the use of in-line inspection tools or via a hydrostatic pressure test. The technologically sophisticated in-line inspection tools have the ability to detect conditions on the pipeline that require repair. Necessary repairs are identified along the length of the pipelines, with priority given to those repairs located within HCAs in accordance with federal regulations. Hydrostatic pressure testing involves filling the pipeline with water and pressurizing that water above the pipeline’s maximum operating pressure. Pressure testing has the ability to identify critical flaws that require repair prior to refilling the pipeline. It also provides a safety buffer between the test pressure and operating pressure of the system during transportation of hazardous liquids.
Energy Transfer assessed the entirety of the Mariner East 1 pipeline and not just those areas identified to be HCAs via both of the methods identified above. Mariner East 2 is being constructed using new pipe that is hydrostatically tested prior to being placed into operation.
Energy Transfer exceeds requirements for inspecting our pipeline rights-of-way by conducting frequent ground and aerial patrols. The patrols monitor for any activity on the pipeline rights-of-way and for other conditions that could impact pipeline and public safety. Aerial patrols are targeted to be performed at least weekly, weather permitting.
Please see additional information on hazardous liquid HCAs at http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/iim/fact.htm
There have been questions regarding the integrity of the coating on steel pipe from UV exposure. Is this a problem?
No. Prolonged exposure to sunlight has minimal to no effect on the coating. Additionally, all pipe is inspected several times throughout the construction process. The coating we use is on our pipe is UV resistant.
What type of coating is used to protect the pipe during HDDs and from UV exposure?
All newly installed steel pipelines are treated with a fusion bonded epoxy (FEB) anti-corrosion coating to prevent damage and corrosion. This coating is UV resistant. For HDDs, we add an abrasion resistant overcoat (ARO) that provides a hard, mechanically strong, abrasion and impact resistant topcoat for further protection. This additional coating is also UV resistant.
Does Energy Transfer conduct water testing along the Mariner East 2 pipeline route?
Yes. We conduct testing of water wells along the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania and fulfill our monitoring, testing and reporting obligations per the protocols as agreed upon with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Does the pipeline have early-detection and alarm warning systems in place?
We have long had warning and early-detection systems in place that monitor any variances in pressure, temperature, flow rate, and more. If a variance is detected, our sophisticated computational pipeline monitoring (CPM) system alerts trained personnel and computerized valves are closed immediately. We quickly dispatch trained personnel to the location and notify local emergency responders.
According to John Zurcher who is an expert in pipeline integrity and was formerly the chairman of the Gas Research Institute and helped write many regulatory standards, public detection systems and alarms have proven to not work. He says gas detectors are unreliable for many reasons. They can be incorrectly set off by detecting methane from cows, gas from the sewer or gas produced by swamps, and diesel from idling trucks or a train going by, to name a few. The inadvertent triggering of these devices could set off false alarms everywhere all the time. False alarms could cause panic and put people in unnecessary danger prior to first responders being able to execute proper protocol. Separately, adding odorant to transmission pipelines is not of value as determined by both PHMSA and the NTSB. Odorant in pipelines is sulphur-based which can be corrosive to the internal surfaces of the pipe.
Our sophisticated early-detection systems are installed on all pipelines and monitored 24/7 by specially trained personnel. We are able to close valves quickly and coordinate an appropriate response with local emergency responders. Safety is the utmost importance to us which is why we exceed regulatory standards for pipeline safety inspections. We fly pipeline routes twice per week and spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year maintain and improve our assets.
What are natural gas liquids?
Mariner East pipelines transport natural gas liquids (NGLs), also known as liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs). NGLs include propane, ethane, butane and natural gasoline. In certain shale areas, such as western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio, natural gas liquids are found in abundance with traditional natural gas, or methane. They are described as liquids because they are moved through pipes in liquid form. In the atmosphere, these substances usually take the form of a gas.
What are natural gas liquids used for?
Propane is a common fuel for home and industrial heating, cooking, crop drying and motor vehicles. Propane can be used as a basic material in the manufacturing of chemicals such as propylene, which is used to make plastics, textiles and many other goods. It can also be used as a peaking fuel in electric power utilities. Over 95 percent of propane consumed in the U.S. is produced in North America, and today approximately 200 trucks leave the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex per day with propane for domestic/local use.
Ethane has uses as a fuel for generating electricity and is widely used as an essential building block of plastics, textiles, detergents and coatings. There are also a number of trucks delivering ethane locally out of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex for use as a refrigerant. Butane and natural gasoline can be blended as an ingredient in gasoline, and butane can also be used as a fuel in industrial applications and refrigerant, and it has many other chemical applications.
Increased access to these economical supplies of NGLs has attracted and will continue to attract manufacturers into the mid-Atlantic region. For example, the CPV Fairview Energy Center in Cambria County, Pa., will receive NGLs from the Mariner East 2 pipeline that will be used to generate enough electricity to power over 1 million homes and businesses.
Is an odorant added to the natural gas liquids before they are shipped on the Mariner East system?
The addition of odorant is not possible given the potential end uses of the products, such as textiles and plastics. This is one reason that the addition of odorants in transmission pipelines is not required by regulation.
How does Mariner East benefit Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware?
The Mariner East system is helping to sustain and develop the natural gas and related industries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware. Energy Transfer has more than 1,200 employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware.
Our total investment in Pennsylvania for the combined Mariner East projects is expected to be more than $3 billion. The construction of Mariner East projects is estimated to generate a potential one-time economic impact of nearly $9.1 billion in the commonwealth.
Construction will support 57,070 direct, indirect and induced jobs from 2013 to 2019, with earnings of $2.7 billion impacting multiple industries.
Construction expenditures will generate estimated one-time tax revenues of $122 million for the commonwealth over the length of the construction period from the direct, indirect and induced economic activity.
How does Energy Transfer Support Pennsylvania?
Our presence as a corporate citizen, employer and benefactor in Pennsylvania has had a positive impact on its communities and citizens. Over the last five years, Energy Transfer has contributed more than $5.8 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, including more than $7 million in donations to local causes from our Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation and corporate commitments. In the last five years, we have contributed:
- $3.7 billion in taxable wages
- $50 million in taxes paid
- $1.9 billion in sales tax
- $52 million in property tax
- $7 million in donations
By 2020, the Mariner East projects, the fractionation facility and the associated improvements at MHIC will produce $140 million to $210 million of ongoing annual economic impacts in the commonwealth, supporting 360 to 530 direct, indirect and induced jobs with earnings of $30 million to $45 million.
The critical infrastructure built as part of Mariner East:
- Increases the reliable supply of propane to Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, including planned offtake points in Lebanon and Berks counties, exerting downward pressure on prices
- Will provide ethane to fuel an electricity generating plant in Cambria County, Pa.
- Increases the supply of butane to the region for use in gasoline
- Provides feedstock for potential manufacturing businesses in the state
- Keeps the resources of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania for marketing, distribution and use for manufacturing businesses, rather than sending business, jobs and revenue to the Gulf Coast
All of this helps increase our energy independence and has helped make the U.S. the No. 1 producer of natural gas in the world, leaving us less dependent on foreign energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions.
How does this fit into Sunoco Pipelin's long-term strategy for Marcus Hook?
We believe that the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex (MHIC) – the former refinery built in 1902 – can become the preeminent hub for natural gas liquids on the East Coast. Once the materials begin to arrive via the pipelines, there are a number of development opportunities at MHIC for industrial processing facilities, such as a propane cracker to create propylene. This new market can anchor the resurgence of manufacturing in the region and create hundreds of additional high-quality jobs.
The Marcus Hook facility began receiving propane in January 2015, and it ships approximately 70,000 barrels a day of propane and ethane for distribution to local, regional and international markets. In December 2018, the facility commissioned a first-of-its-kind ethane truck-loading rack to complement its existing propane terminal that supplies propane for local and regional delivery.
We are very proud of our work to revitalize the Marcus Hook refinery and surrounding communities. Our infrastructure was the catalyst that transformed the former Marcus Hook refinery into the current Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, a world-class energy and petrochemicals hub that required 9 million man hours involving more than 5,000 workers.
Does the pipeline system deliver only to Marcus Hook, or will there be interim access points for regional propane suppliers?
On Mariner East 2, we initially expect to have offtake points in Berks County and Lebanon County for local propane retailers, and in Cambria County for an electricity generating station powered in part by ethane. At the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, the natural gas liquids are distributed to destinations in Pennsylvania and other domestic and international markets.
How safe are natural gas liquids pipelines?
Pipelines safely transport large volumes of petroleum products over long distances every day. “Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products,” according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for enforcing pipeline safety. An ordinary pipeline can safely transport the equivalent of 750 tanker trucks per day, or a train of 75 tank railcars a day, as noted by PHMSA.
In 2015 there were more than 2.4 million miles of petroleum pipelines in the U.S., and natural gas liquid pipelines accounted for more than 62,000 miles of those pipelines, according to the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines. America’s pipelines shipped more than 750 billion gallons of crude oil and liquid petroleum products – including propane, ethane, butane, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products – in 2015.
Our Mariner East pipelines are regulated for safety by PHMSA at the federal level and in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Do any of these pipelines pass through residential areas?
It is not uncommon for pipelines to pass through residential areas. In fact, for more than 50 years we have safely operated our Inkster-Sarnia line, which formerly carried propane and butane and now transports ethane, through urban, suburban and rural areas of Ohio and Michigan. We have safely transported natural gas liquids via pipeline between refineries in the Philadelphia region for decades.
How does Energy Transfer ensure the safety of its pipelines and facilities?
As a pipeline operator, safety is our highest priority. Our pipelines are built and operated with many layers of safety features working together to protect people, property and the environment.
Energy Transfer works closely with the manufacturers that design, build and coat the pipelines we use in our operations. All new pipe is thoroughly tested and inspected to ensure that it meets or exceeds industry standards and meets or exceeds all state and federal safety requirements. Routine inspections during construction are conducted by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, both of which regulate the pipeline for safety.
All newly installed steel pipelines are treated with a protective bonded-epoxy coating to prevent damage and corrosion. In addition, cathodic protection systems, which further inhibit corrosion, are placed along the pipeline.
As the sections of Mariner East pipeline are welded, an independent, third-party inspector checks every weld visually and using X-ray technology.
Before placing any natural gas liquids line in service, we test new and existing pipe with water at pressures at least 25 percent above the highest pressure at which the line will be operating. This confirms the pipeline’s strength. This process is known as hydrostatic testing, or hydrotesting.
We also conduct periodic inspections of our pipelines to determine that they are operating safely and efficiently. Inspection tools, commonly referred to as “smart pigs,” travel internally through the line, measuring wall thickness and other features to detect suspected defects and/or corrosion.
Our comprehensive Integrity Management Program includes monitoring our assets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It also includes inspecting, addressing and sometimes upgrading areas of pipe as precautionary measures in the operation of pipelines. In 2018, we spent approximately $456 million on integrity management.
How does Energy Transfer’s safety program measure up to industry standards?
Energy Transfer meets or exceeds all federal safety requirements, and a safety inspection of new Mariner East 1 construction by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission resulted in no adverse findings.
In 2015 and 2017, a Chester County township commissioned an independent study of our safety practices and integrity management, and it found that Energy Transfer meets or exceeds federal safety requirements at every level. Here is one passage from the 2015 report by Accufacts Inc.:
“It is Accufacts’ opinion for the section of 8-inch pipeline that crosses the Township, that Sunoco far exceeds a number of requirements of the federal pipeline safety regulations, that it embraces the intent of integrity management, or IM, regulations that are meant to prevent pipe mainline rupture failure, and that their IM approach is currently prudent.”
Accufacts performed a similar analysis for the township on Mariner East 2, with similar conclusions published in early 2017: “Accufacts finds that Sunoco has incorporated additional processes in excess of minimum federal pipeline safety regulations that should assure the safety of this proposal across the Township.”
A Delaware County Council-sponsored risk assessment has confirmed that the Mariner East 2 pipeline is safe and poses no great risk. The 79-page report paid for by county taxpayers found that risk from common sources such as traffic accidents, house fires and falling down stairs is 20 to 35 times greater than a pipeline. This comparison was made with the assumption that someone is standing directly above the pipeline 24 hours a day, proving that in reality the pipeline is even safer than the assessment calculates.
Delaware County’s independent risk assessment was conducted by G2 Integrated Solutions, a Texas-based company that provides expertise to pipeline operators, utility companies and others related to the energy industry to manage risk, ensure compliance and optimize performance.
How does Energy Transfer monitor its pipelines?
We use advanced Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to constantly monitor sensing devices placed along the pipeline to track pressure, temperature, density and flow. We also use a subsystem of SCADA, known as the Computational Pipeline Monitoring System (CPM), which analyzes deviations in the flow of liquids, thus improving the operator’s ability to identify abnormal operating conditions.
Valve sites placed at intervals along the pipeline can shut down and isolate a section remotely or manually on-site. Our systems are built to shut down automatically in response to abnormal changes in pressure. We also have an emergency shutdown system, in addition to remote control operations with local automated control operations and manual overrides and operations in place.
Continuous monitoring of our pipelines is a top priority for us, and we regularly exceed requirements for pipeline monitoring. We conduct regular aerial patrols above and beyond the mandatory 26 times per year (we attempt to inspect 104 times per year — often twice per week, weather permitting) and weekly site inspections, which are in addition to our computer-based monitoring done 24/7. We also conduct daily ground patrols in connection with 811 calls to mark our lines.
What other measures do you take to protect the communities you operate in?
Under the requirements of 195.440, all pipeline operators must develop and implement a written continuing public education program that follows the guidance provided in the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, which we have done and communicated with emergency response professionals along the line. We use the same wording as PHMSA in our public awareness mailers that go to all parties along the route, explaining how to identify and react to a pipeline emergency. We also follow the API RP 1174 “Recommended Practice for Onshore Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Emergency Preparedness and Response.
As part of our Public Awareness Program, we reach out to neighbors, contractors and first responders to educate them about the pipelines in their communities. Through our community engagement program, we work with landowners and other members of the community to educate them about our operations and encourage them to contact Energy Transfer with any potential issues. Additionally, the project team has fielded and responded to more than 600 community hotline inquiries from stakeholders since March 2017. We communicate updates regularly on our website and in our monthly project newsletter, which is mailed to more than 5,500 landowners and stakeholders across the 350-mile project. Our company also has a robust Public Awareness Program, which in 2018 included mailing 200,283 Public Awareness Brochures to affected public, emergency officials, excavators and public officials along all our systems in Pennsylvania.
Through our Mariner Emergency Response Outreach (MERO) program, we meet with emergency responders in all the counties we pass through to train them on the products we transport and assist them in refining their own emergency response plans. Our public awareness outreach includes a mailer to all neighbors — including residents, businesses, churches, schools and other addresses — within 1,000 feet on both sides of our pipelines. It also is sent to excavators with an address within a 7.5-mile radius of the pipeline. Similar mailings are sent to public officials, including all governments within the counties through which the project traverses, plus those within a 10-mile proximity, and emergency officials within the same area. We have also met with over 40 schools that are in the vicinity of ME1 and ME2 to discuss emergency response planning.
We participate in the One Call program in all areas where we have operations. One Call works with project owners, designers, excavators and facility owners to make sure utilities and pipelines are clearly marked prior to any surface work being done. Anyone preparing to dig on their property, or contractors performing excavation, should call 811.
Pipeline markers and signage are placed along all of our routes at key intersections to notify the community of the pipeline location. All signage will identify Energy Transfer or an affiliate company as the operator and will have our emergency toll-free number: (800) 786-7440.
How do you respond to problems or emergencies?
We have a comprehensive Facility Response Plan, which is a more detailed version of an Emergency Response Plan that includes all of our assets in the area. This plan is filed with PHMSA and meets all requirements of federal and state regulatory agencies. In case of an emergency, we have teams trained to respond immediately and notify local emergency dispatch centers. We would work in coordination with local first responders to determine protective measures such as neighborhood notification and evacuation. Evacuation can be ordered only by government agencies, and we work with counties to provide the information and training they need to develop appropriate emergency preparedness plans.
Our emergency response professionals work and train with local first responders and county emergency services officials to ensure a coordinated response. Firefighters, police, EMS and emergency management personnel have been offered classroom training, orientations and site visits to our pump stations. More than 2,000 first responders have participated in this training in Pennsylvania alone. In conjunction with other local pipeline operators, pipeline awareness and emergency response training is offered annually on a regional basis across the commonwealth.
Our annual meetings with first responders include a coordinated response exercise, or CoRE. CoRE brings together pipeline operators and first responders to plan for pipeline emergency response. In 2018, we sponsored 21 CoRE sessions in Pennsylvania, with a total attendance of 2,027.
Additional training is provided when specifically requested by a local response organization.
What measures does Energy Transfer take to protect the environment?
Protection of people, property and the environment is a core value for all Energy Transfer employees. We choose our pipeline routes to avoid sensitive habitats whenever possible. We often use existing rights-of-way to limit disturbance during construction. And we work with all regulatory agencies to fully comply with laws and regulations and to protect sensitive areas.
Our construction contractors are experienced pipeline builders who are trained and supervised to minimize environmental impacts during construction. We will make every effort to thoroughly clean our construction sites and restore the land to its original condition.
The 300-plus-mile pipeline route uses over 80 percent existing rights-of-way or other utility corridors, minimizing environmental impact. When possible, we diverted the existing corridor to avoid wetlands and waterways, sensitive species and habitats and cultural resources. Our construction processes, such as horizontal directional drilling, will allow us to avoid sensitive areas and minimize impact, and replace or restore habitat where affected.
We have environmental inspectors at construction sites who are responsible for holding our construction methods and erosion-control devices to the specific requirements of our water-crossing and earth-disturbance permits on each of the six construction spreads. The comprehensive, 2.5-year-long environmental permitting process has included local, state and federal agencies, along with full public participation.
How do you protect wetlands and other water resources?
The total wetland area of 118 acres was reduced to 36 acres of impact by using approximately 800 drills/bores to bury the pipeline well below the surface, narrowing the construction right-of-way in certain sensitive areas and rerouting around others.
The horizontal directional drilling (HDD) or boring technique allows us to install the pipe deep below (20-180 feet) the surface and avoid disturbing wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Less than half an acre of wetlands, the approximate size of an NHL hockey rink, will be permanently converted from its original state. This total is divided among 19 wetlands over 12 counties.
Affected wetland will be replaced and upgraded at a ratio of more than 5:1.
We have demonstrated total commitment to protection of public and private water supplies around the project with detailed plans.
How do you protect wildlife during construction?
Energy Transfer conducted exhaustive research into the presence of threatened or endangered species. Fully approved conservation plans are in place from all appropriate federal and state agencies.
All threatened and endangered species coordination has been completed with a no-impact determination.
Bog turtle habitat will be protected through the use of horizontal directional drilling that involves groundwater and vibration monitoring, as well as an independent herpetologist who will monitor daily construction.
A timber rattlesnake expert, also on staff, will clear construction areas each morning and relocate snakes as necessary. We will build additional rattlesnake habitat, as well as woodrat habitat.
Restoration includes native plants conducive to pollinator insects, such as bumblebees.
Who regulates the Mariner East pipelines?
Hazardous Liquid transmission pipelines engaged in Interstate transportation are regulated for safety purposes by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Typically, states will defer regulatory oversight of Interstate transportation pipelines to PHMSA; whereas purely Intrastate transportation pipelines are regulated in the State in which they operate by that State’s pipeline safety agency. The Mariner East pipeline system is somewhat unique in that it is engaged in both Interstate and Intrastate transportation. In the State of Pennsylvania both the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and PHMSA have assumed regulatory oversight over the Mariner East pipeline system. Both agencies routinely inspect the Mariner East pipelines for compliance with State and Federal regulations. Additionally, the PUC collects public utility tax on pipeline revenue and PHMSA collects an annual per mile fee to operate a pipeline.
Infrastructure development is governed by a combination of federal and state laws and regulations, county plans, and local ordinances. Multiple federal and state agencies and commissions are involved in permitting and overseeing siting, construction, operation and maintenance of pipeline infrastructure. Numerous agencies also regulate the operations of pipeline and terminal assets through various types of permits, licenses, registrations and certifications.
We also file permits with, or follow guidelines by, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Public Health Management Corporation, County Conservation Districts, Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, and Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Code – Chapters 102 and 105.
What role does the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission play?
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, also referred to as the PUC, was created by the Legislature in 1937 to regulate the state’s utility infrastructure and development.
The agency, according to its website, “balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.”
The PUC regulates the service of pipeline operators moving products intrastate within Pennsylvania and collects public utility tax on pipeline revenue. It determines which private companies provide a service for the convenience and welfare of the public and qualify as public utilities.
What is a public utility corporation?
A public utility corporation is a for-profit entity that “is subject to regulation as a public utility by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission,” according to Pennsylvania law. In other words, it is a company that offers service that is regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Is Energy Transfer a public utility corporation?
Energy Transfer is a public utility corporation regulated by the PUC. This fact has been confirmed repeatedly by trial courts and appellate courts.
Does Energy Transfer have the power of eminent domain, and what is the company’s position on using it?
Eminent domain was established in Pennsylvania to ensure that infrastructure that is deemed critical to the public and the commonwealth gets built. Energy Transfer’s authority to use eminent domain is derived from its status as a public utility corporation. Energy Transfer holds a certificate of public convenience for the transportation of petroleum products within certain counties in Pennsylvania.
We respect landowner rights and take those rights very seriously. We appreciate the enormity of eminent domain authority. We exercise this authority, if at all, in very limited cases, cautiously, and only as a last resort when negotiations with a landowner fail and can impede the successful completion of the project.
What is the difference between interstate and intrastate service?
Interstate pipeline service carries products through more than one state and is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Intrastate pipeline service ships products completely within the borders of one state and is regulated by state bodies such as the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
The Mariner East pipelines, because they provide interstate and intrastate service, are regulated by both the federal and state agencies.
Where did you buy the steel and from whom?
The 5,400 tons of steel pipe for Mariner East 1 (53 miles) were produced at U.S. Steel in McKeesport, Pa., and coated at the Dura-Bond facility in Duquesne, Pa.
Mariner East 2 and 2X are using more than 85,000 tons of domestic steel pipes milled, rolled and coated in the U.S. for all 350 miles of the 20-inch pipeline and 50 miles of the 16-inch pipeline. The remaining 200 miles of the 16-inch pipeline is being built with European steel purchased from another U.S. pipeline operator, from a project that was canceled.
In total, the Mariner East system consists of more than 90,000 tons of steel milled, rolled and coated in the U.S.
What construction methods are you using for the Mariner East projects?
There are two main construction methods used in the construction of the pipeline.
Most areas will see traditional, open-cut construction in which a right-of-way is cleared, graded and trenched. The pipe is laid out in sections alongside the trench, welded on-site, then lowered into the trench, filled back in with dirt and restored to its previous condition, wherever possible. Check out this video for typical construction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px5NpQGNKww&t=9s.
Another technique is drilling, which can be a horizontal boring or a horizontal directional drill (HDD), generally used to cross roads or environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands. This type of drilling is less invasive to the environment and to property than the typical open-trench method. In essence, this process involves establishing an entry/exit point, then precisely drilling a new bore.
New pipe is then pulled through the hole that was bored underground, up to 200 feet deep, depending on the area. In some cases, additional details need to be worked out with landowners, because a staging or laydown area is necessary in locations where we will insert and exit with the HDD. Any workspace disturbance will be restored. Check out this video for HDD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phM21mVPLsA&t=10s.
When will you complete construction of Mariner East 2 and 2X?
Mariner East 2 is in service, using completed areas of 20-inch pipeline and a short section of an existing 12-inch pipeline, which is temporary. Construction is underway on the remaining 20-inch and 16-inch in areas where we have the approvals to do so. The Mariner East 2X 16-inch pipeline is scheduled to be finished in 2019.
How will this impact citizens along the line?
Residents will see construction for a period of several months, more in some areas. Those with land impacted will have their property restored to its previous condition, wherever possible. Our skilled team of environmental experts follows a plan for reclamation, the final stage of the construction process, that restores the land as closely to its preconstruction state as possible or, in some cases, even better. Successful reclamation actions include erosion control, sediment movement, plant community integrity, and watershed, water quality and wildlife habitat protection. Before returning topsoil, we perform compaction relief to ensure greater reclamation success. After reclamation is complete, our highly trained environmental inspectors will conduct thorough evaluations to ensure the land meets or exceeds all federal, state and local guidelines.
Can property owners still use the right-of-way once the pipeline is installed?
In most cases, property owners can use their land in the right-of-way just as they did before construction. Farmers can resume activities such as growing crops and pasturing. There may be some restrictions on use that would be detrimental to the pipeline, such as the building of permanent structures. The impact of such restrictions will be addressed as part of the right-of-way agreement.
How do you choose a route for the pipeline? Will the Mariner East 2 pipeline use existing rights-of-way?
Mariner East 2 uses existing rights-of-way where possible, as recommended by the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force. We studied all reasonable route options, including the use of adjacent rights-of-way, such as electric power lines, highways, railroads and other pipelines. This reduced the amount of clearing required for the project, minimizing environmental disturbance and disruption to property owners. In Pennsylvania, we made reasonable efforts to place the route adjacent to our existing pipelines.
What is the width of a right-of-way?
A pipeline typically requires a permanent right-of-way that is 50 feet wide. During construction of the pipeline, we will need 25 feet of additional, temporary workspace next to the permanent right-of-way. We may need additional temporary workspace in certain areas such as road, railroad and stream crossings.
What is the role of a land agent?
A land agent is a professional contracted by a pipeline company to work with property owners along a proposed pipeline route. The land agent’s job is to:
Make certain that the landowner receives important information about the project.
Negotiate a “grant of easement” between the property owner and Energy Transfer, or an option agreement for such an easement. The easement grants certain legal rights of access to Energy Transfer to install and maintain the pipeline and related facilities. It does not grant the pipeline company ownership of the land.
Act as a liaison between the property owner and Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 2 project team throughout construction.
Be available for meetings with the property owner to discuss questions and concerns.
Who are Energy Transfer’s land agents?
We have contracted Tablerock Land Services for Ohio, West Virginia and parts of western Pennsylvania, and Percheron LLC for the remainder of Pennsylvania. They are being directed and supervised by Energy Transfer employees.
Who is the primary contact for affected property owners?
Each property owner will be assigned a specific land agent to serve as primary contact. In the event the land agent cannot address all your questions or concerns, please call the Energy Transfer information line at (855) 430-4491 and your Mariner East 2 issue will be directed to the right person.